The eyes of the tennis world will be focused on Lexington, Kentucky, Thursday when the Williams sisters, Serena and Venus, collide for a 31st time.
Both won their openers on Tuesday with Serena coming from a set and 4-all, 0-40 down to deny Bernarda Pera. The 40-year-old Venus overwhelmed fellow former No. 1 Victoria Azarenka 6-3, 6-2.
In this second round duel, Serena leads 18-12 taking their most recent meeting dropping just three games during a 2018 US Open rout.
“One Grand Slam winner, former World No.1, to another,” said Venus. “It’s been quite the draw for me, but quite honestly, this is perfect, because I haven’t played in forever, so I want to play the best players. And I think I got my wish playing Serena, so here we go.”
Serena knows she’ll have to improve her performance after surviving Pera.
“I know I’m going to get better with each match, and I’m ok with that because today was nothing compared to how I’m practicing. I just need more rhythm, more time to be out there playing the match.”
The two first met over 22 years ago at the 1998 Australian Open. This time, with no fans and vehicles driving past the court in the background, it will be a bizarre scene on Thursday in this family rivalry.
On Wednesday, the big story was a second straight win for the 16-year-old phenom Coco Gauff who edged the second-seeded Aryna Sabalenka 7-6(4), 2-6, 6-4.
“I think my mentality pushed me to win,” said Gauff. “We’re both playing good tennis, and had our ups and downs in the match. At the end of the day, it came down to a couple close points.
“Everything was an ‘A’ except for my serving. I definitely served better in my first match than today, but you’re going to have good and bad days, and I like to go for my serves, so that’s the give and take.”
Gauff will now meet Ons Jabeur on Friday for a spot in the semifinals.
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